A braised Rabbit with Chocolate Sauce and red wine served on a thick mashed potato bed. A traditional recipe of Catalonia called Conejo al chocolate.
This creation was inspired by a Catalan dish called Conejo al chocolate, which means Rabbit with Chocolate Sauce. This version is slightly different than the traditional recipe from Catalonia, Spain. I know the Basques have their version also, with brandy instead of wine. In Catalonia, they use fortified wine called “Rancio” to make it, similar to Porto. I’ve used an everyday wine to make this recipe easier to reproduce at home, but a Porto would do too. It makes the dish, in the end, a bit less sweet, which I prefer.
Rabbit recipes are great but often underrated because, just like chicken breasts, the meat is so lean… cooking it the wrong way will dry it out fast and ruin it. No worries; this recipe is a stew so the meat won’t dry.
As always, I’ve picked up the rabbit at my favourite market and asked the lady what she does with the heads. “Is there anything to eat in it, or is it for broth making only?” she recommended eating the cheeks and tongue. Then she said you either love or hate it; it’s a black or white thing… So, after the cooking process, I tried both, and it was a “grey” situation… the cheeks, I loved! A super tender and tasty part. As for the tongue…! I’ll have to work on that one… I need a good tongue recipe to make peace with it; I’m open to invitations to share a rabbit tongue recipe here…
Chocolate from Guadeloupe
Chocolate is an excellent thickener for sauces, although it isn’t used much nowadays because of its price. My chocolate comes from the Mecca of Chocolate, Guadeloupe. I visited the “Maison du cacao” last year and couldn’t resist the urge to buy that big 1kg pure cacao brick. They drink the cacao paste, Gwo Kako, in Creole, and they use the cacao butter for cooking and moisturizing their skin… I mean, chocolate is so polyvalent. While at the museum, they made us a cacao drink with the Gwo Kako, cane sugar and water. ‘Never use milk!’ the lady said. No idea why… and simply with water, it was an “out of that world” experience, such a velvety and chocolaty delight!
The Final Step: the Picada
The final step of the recipe ends with a “Picada.” This is “the number one” thing you learn in traditional Catalan cooking class, making a big difference to a dish. A minimal amount of paste is added at the end of a stew or sauce made from fresh herbs, nuts, garlic, olive oil, etc. It’s a great trick to give your meal a final new touch and also helps thickens the leftover liquid. Usually, it’s done by hand in a mortar. The Picada stays optional, but if you want to make this extra small step, it will bring your meal the extra mile! This Catalan little secret is well worth the additional 2 minutes of work.
Other Catalan Dishes You Might Like
So let’s make that chocolate rabbit!
Rabbit with Chocolate Sauce
- 2 rabbits (4 loins plus 4 legs)
- 100 ml red wine (fortified wine better (porto, rancio, etc.))
- 200 ml chicken broth
- 60 g dark chocolate (75% or more)
- 2 carrots (diced up)
- 8 french shallots (finely chopped)
- 2 garlic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 tbsp brandy (optional)
- salt and pepper
The picada (the finishing touch)
- 2 tbsp of flat leave parsley finely chopped
- 10 skinless almond (or 1 tbsp in powder)
- 1/2 garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Start by cleaning the rabbit legs, cut the extra skin over the bone and push it down to show the bone.
- Season with salt and pepper to the rabbit.
- In a big iron cast, medium-high heat, brown those rabbit legs for 1 minute before adding the loins, cook until golden on each sides.
- Add all the cut vegetables to the pan, cook at medium-high heat for two more minutes.
- Add a splash of Brandy to deglaze the bottom of your pot.
- Then, add the wine, broth and spices.
- Bring to a soft simmer.
- Insert in the oven at 180°C (350F°), partially covered, for 30-40 minutes.
- Take out of the oven, take the pieces of rabbit out and reserve.
- In a fine strainer filter the sauce into a pan.
- Add the Picada and cook for another minute.
- Stop the fire and add the chocolate, let it melt with the residual heat.
- Put back the rabbit pieces into the sauce.
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I first had chocolate with rabbit in Mallorca Spain and I thought it would be an odd combination but it’s delicious.
I know… it’s odd at first but once it hits the tastebuds it’s another story! Let say it’s not a full on chocolate flavour neither…
LOVING THIS. I mean, it’s an interesting and underappreciated recipe in so many ways (rabbit AND savoury chocolate), and there are so many cool cultural and culinary tidbits here I didn’t know about. I hadn’t heard of picada before, so that’s awesome too. It makes sense really, and you see those ‘finishing touch’ spice/herb blend used in so many food cultures. Seriously, I would dive right in to this.
Oh, and one last note – exactly how much tongue does one get from a rabbit? Heh, I can’t say that I’m imagining you have much to work with.
Oh that tongue… i m still having nightmares about it! Thanks for the comment Sean.
Totally loving this! I was first introduced to rabbit through competition cooking while in cooking school, and I can honestly say I haven’t really eaten it since then. Simply for the fact that all the recipes I have for rabbit are not really family meal friendly and geared more towards fine dining. This looks like a delicious hearty meal that would be perfect cooked over a fire! I’ll have to try that out.
It s a quite popular dish here in Catalonia! You ll love it!
You are striking a chord with me here! I’ve never worked with rabbit but always wanted to, and I’ve always wanted to make a savoury chocolate sauce but have never gotten around to it. This dish look absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to try it!
Hope you’ll try it out!